Petrojam chair repays airline ticket - PAAC concerned about procurement breach
Dr Perceval Bahado-Singh, chairman of the state-owned oil refinery Petrojam has repaid an airline ticket of over US$7,000 (J$900,000) for travel to a meeting in the United Kingdom, which he did not attend. But the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) is still concerned about a breach of procurement procedures.
"With respect to the expense that was incurred by the chairman, it [the airline ticket] was purchased by the chairman to travel to an overseas meeting that was attended by other members of the management team. He was not able to attend due to weather issues. At the time of the travel, the money was reimbursed [by Petrojam]," Petrojam General Manager Floyd Grindley told the PAAC yesterday.
The meeting took place in February, and Bahado-Singh, who lives in Maryland, United States, reimbursed Petrojam last week after Phillip Paulwell, opposition spokesperson on energy, publicised the issue in Parliament last month.
Petrojam breached government policy regarding foreign travel as airline tickets are to be booked through a travel agency. But Carlene Evans, budget and treasury officer at Petrojam, noted, "Typically, we adhere strictly to what obtains in the Ministry of Finance's handbook as it relates to foreign travel, both for management, regular staff, and board members, when they do travel. This situation with the chairman was a one-off situation."
EXTREME CLARITY NEEDED
While Petrojam did not account for the discrepancy, Juliet Holness, PAAC government member, charged that she needed to know whether the airline reimbursed the money to the chairman.
"It helps me to have extreme clarity as to whether or not the weather conditions genuinely played a role in the chairman not being able to attend and because we have to make sure that Government's resources are spent in the way they should," said Holness.
PAAC Chairman Wykeham McNeill has requested a full list of travel expenses incurred by Dr Bahado-Singh since he assumed the role.